Editorials

Why El Dorado County’s next supervisor should be John Hidahl

John Hidahl
John Hidahl

El Dorado County’s rural character is its central challenge. Its rolling hills are a golden glimpse of a disappearing California, and yet, without growth – and the taxes that come with it – the county can’t afford services or employee benefits.

Maintaining that balance requires both a familiarity with governance and a credibility that can only arise from grass-roots connections. That is why we endorse John Hidahl in the county’s District 1 supervisorial race.

Hidahl, 65, has lived in El Dorado Hills for nearly four decades, and has spent almost that long with his shoulder to the often thankless wheel of local public service. A retired aerospace engineer, he has spent 33 years on the area’s influential fire board. He is the district’s parks and recreation commissioner, chairs the El Dorado Hills community council and area planning advisory committee, and has held many other local positions as his unincorporated community has expanded and more than doubled since 2000. At a recent candidates forum, he answered questions about the district in almost granular historical detail.

His opponent, Assemblywoman Beth Gaines, moved to District 1 only two years ago from Roseville, and has only served in the state Assembly since 2011. A Republican, she reflects the county’s conservative politics, and her legislative district includes part of El Dorado County. But her views on development, crime and other priorities that will confront whoever wins the nonpartisan office are virtually identical to Hidahl’s, a conservative Democrat.

One difference is in backing. Hidahl has taken no developer contributions; Gaines, who owns a small business herself, has taken tens of thousands of dollars from them. She also has an active campaign committee raising money for a state Senate race in 2020, when her husband, Sen. Ted Gaines, terms out of that office.

Beth Gaines, 57, served ably in the Legislature and says that, if elected, she intends to remain in the county post and will give it her undivided attention. But her skills don’t outshine Hidahl’s enough for a pit stop to have been worthwhile if she does run for her husband’s Senate seat in four years. Hidahl has proven his commitment, and if Gaines runs for the Senate in 2020, the area will have two representatives with experience.

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